Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Top 5's of 2012

Around this time each year I've done a wrap-up post (2011, 2010, 2009), and since this year I added some pages to my blog listing my finished garments and my quilts, rather than doing a full summary I thought I'd join in with all the other bloggers that are taking part in the top 5 lists suggested by Gillian.

But first a quick recap: So far I have made 24 garments this year, and 7 quilts (two of which were queen/double bed sized) and two quilt tops. Less than previous years, but between a month in the UK, moving house and starting a new job, I don't think that's too bad! Besides there's still a few days left...

Now onto the lists...



My five favourite garments this year are shown above (click on the image for the posts about those garments):
  1. Miette Cardigan. Aside from being thrilled to have knitted my first real garment of clothing, I love it. I've worn it so much since making it, it goes with so many things still in my wardrobe.
  2. First Cambie - In addition to loving that I finally used this fabric, This dress is fab! The a-line skirt is just perfect and I wear it a lot to work!
  3. Thurlow Shorts - I practically lived in these through the winter. They are amazing! So comfortable! I think I need to make at least one other pair for next winter, and maybe a summer pair.
  4. International Bridesmaids Dresses - I partly love these dresses (that I'm counting as one creation) because they remind me of the absolutely amazing day I had at Laura's wedding, but I'm also thrilled with how they turned out, particularly how well Anna's dress fit her.
  5. Portrait Blouse - Another make from fabric that had been in my stash for a while, but also my first full bust adjustment. This blouse is just so comfy to wear and goes with lots of things, a great make!
And even though it's technically breaking the rules, I can't completely ignore the quilts I've made, and of the 7 these three are my favourites:




  1. Jasmine Blouse - The fit on this was completely off. It was promptly gifted to a friend who it did fit, and I believe has found a lovely home there. I still want to re-visit this pattern though, and it was only supposed to be a wearable muslin after all.
  2. Thurlow Trousers - This 'fail' was completely due to fabric choice. Exactly the same size as the shorts, but the fabric had a lot more give/stretch and they were just too big. These have also found another home.
  3. Rooibos Dress - Not a fail exactly, but in it's initial state the dress wasn't living up to it's potential. I have since added some thin black trim to some of the seamlines and it's fabulous now (I need to get pics so I can blog this)
  4. T-shirt fails - There are a couple of t-shirts that I've made that both didn't quite work out for various reasons. Although I still wear them under dresses, I'm acutely aware of their problems and they're more ones I reach for when I need to get around to doing laundry.
  5. My Wallet - Not a failure in that I didn't use it, as I've used it every day since I made it, but a disappointment in how it lasted. The iron on vinyl that I used on the outside started cracking within a week of making the wallet. It's a proper mess now, and I really need to get around to making a new one!


I can't actually think of 5 of these, I'm evidently not in the biggest of naval gazing moods today, so here's my 4:
  1. Front and centre - KNITTING! I am so happy that I decided to try knitting last Christmas. I was expecting to enjoy it as much as I have, and also it's so exciting that I've added another category of items that I can make myself.
  2. Full Bust Adjustments - I've done two FBAs on patterns, and I'm very happy to have tried them, as fit on those two garments is fantastic. 
  3. Pattern drafting - I took a short course on basic pattern making, and I have realy enjoyed it. It was a very basic course, but it was good to start properly at the beginning and work on the details like precise drafting. 
  4. Community - I won't say too much here as that belongs in the below 'inspiration' heading, but the community aspect of my sewing really has been amazing this year in particular.


I've recently posted a list of bloggers that I find inspiring, so I won't list more now. However, I decided to keep this header to mention one thing that I have seriously benefited from this year - that's connecting with the Melbourne (and Australian) Sewing Blogging community. Following Rachel's meet-up in August, and then starting Social Sewing I have found it absolutely amazing to meet new people, and make some really great new friends and connect with them in person as well as online.


I don't really want to make too many specific goals for next year, I want to take it as comes, but here are 5 mostly general goals:
  1. Most important is to enjoy sewing. It's my hobby, and it's important to me that I continue to enjoy it. Not to impose things on myself that make it unenjoyable.
  2. Having said that, I do still want to push myself and learn new things. This year I have learnt a few things - FBAs, knitting, but there's plenty more to learn! Particularly about fitting
  3. Continue to engage with the sewing community both online and in person. Inspiration, advice, friendship... and many other things, there's so much to gain by connecting with other people with a shared interest!
  4. My first ever sew-along - I'm so excited for this! I can't wait!
  5. And lastly a slightly more specific one; sew from a vintage pattern - I've got a few in my stash now but haven't sewn from any of them yet, so one of my goals is to make up at least one of the vintage patterns I own

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Post Christmas Fabric Shopping...

I had a lovely Christmas with my family, but none of my gifts were sewing related (gasp!).  So I'm sure in subconcious retaliation I've taken full advantage of the post-christmas sales...

First, on Boxing Day I went into the city with Kat to go to the Clegs remnant sale. I was very restrained and only bought one piece of fabric, this disrupted-striped jersey (1.6m):

Then yesterday I popped across to spotlight with Oanh to see if they had anything that struck my fancy, and they sure did! I'm a sucker for nice printed cottons (or poly-cottons), and this time of year Spotlight never disappoints!

First this pear print searsucker is destined to become a dress (2.5m):

And a fruit print voile, probably also a dress (2.5m):

I couldn't go past this chiffon on the sale table, it's so beautiful (3m):

And this chiffon will probably become another pendrell blouse (1.5m):

And how cute are these birds! This poplin will probably also become a dress, or maybe a skirt (2.5m):

This is also a voile and so striking. This will be a dress or a gored skirt, I haven't decided (2.5m):

I absolutely fell in love with this peacock print voile when Oanh spotted it! It MUST become a dress with some fussy cutting to perfectly place the peacock! (2.5m):

Another printed voile, probably another dress (2.5m):

I don't know what this was, but it has gorgeous drape. I bought it to give to my Gran to potentially become a Sorbetto (1.5m):

Of course none of it was for the two projects I have planned: my Cordova jacket and Hollyburn skirt, but nevermind, there are plenty more fabric shops to visit! The big decision now is where to start...?!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Patterns: Taking Stock...

Inspired by Mel I decided to count my patterns. Unsurprisingly really, I had more than I would have guessed. There are 69 envelopes in my pattern box, of which 15 of those are 'self drafted' patterns* which I decided to exclude - leaving 54 patterns in my pattern stash.

36 of 53 patterns have been used!
Before starting I hazarded a guess on twitter that I'd used more than half of them - and I was correct! In fact I have used 36 of the 54 patterns, so a whopping 2/3 of them! Even when you factor patterns that yielded unsuccessful garments for one reason or another, I'm still doing alright, with 83% of tried patterns giving successful garments, which is over 50% of all of the patterns:

29 Patterns have yielded successful results!

I own patterns from 14 different companies/designers. The company I have by far the most of is Simplicity! 31 of my patterns are 'contemporary' (big 4 etc), 13 independent, 7 vintage and 3 from books.

Number of patterns from different companies/designers

By far the most numerous type of pattern I have is dresses, followed by tops, and then skirts. However I have only used just over half of the dress patterns, but all of the jacket, trousers/shorts and costumes patterns.

The types of patterns I own and how many have been used
Of the patterns that I've used, most of them (23) have been used once, 10 have been used twice, but two stand out as being used over and over; with 5 uses the second most used pattern is the Jenny skirt by Burdastyle. But a clear winner the most used pattern I own, with 7 uses, is the Wizard of Oz pattern (Simplicity 7808), which has been used to make a Dorothy costume, a Snow White costume and 5 Sailor Scout costumes.

How many times I've used the patterns

I could go on, but I won't bore you anymore! Have you ever taken inventory of the patterns you own and which ones you've used?

*self-drafted is in quotes as though some actually are self-drafted, some are heavy alterations of other patterns, or have been traced off dead or existing garments

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cordova Muslin

I popped round to see Sarah last Sunday and accidentally came home with a copy of the Sewaholic Cordova Jacket Pattern. I've been thinking about making one to wear at work for a while, so decided to bite the bullet and at least make a muslin to see the shape of the jacket on me, without the extra peplum.

So this afternoon I traced off the pattern (in a size 10) and stitched up a muslin. I really like the pattern so far, but I think it needs a few tweaks to perfect it for me. However, I really need some opinions/advice as to what you guys think I should do. (Apologies for the harsh light and slightly fuzzy pictures - I'm still trying to get the hang of self-portraits!)


Looking both in the mirror and at the photos, most of the fit issues are in the back of the jacket. However, I do think I need to narrow the shoulders slightly, the seam sits at the end of my shoulders rather than at the end of the bone, so the top of the sleeve is completely empty! If I want to do that do I just take it off the armhole?

There's also a tiny bit of pulling under the bust, but i'm not sure if it's enough to worry about or not? (I'm questioning it as I have no idea how I'd do a comparable alteration to the lining as it has different seamlines!)


It's the back where it's a mess - my lovely protruding behind and sway back pushes the jacket up and causes lots of wrinkles. Above you can see how it sits with just a minor amount of movement before the photo, and below left I deliberately lifted my arms above my head and didn't pull it down again at the back after at all.

I can't decide if i need to do a sway back adjustment, add some extra width around the hips (somewhere?) or shorten above the peplum. The seam of the peplum falls slightly below where I really start to widen out, but I don't know where it would be most flattering to fall. I think if i shortened above the peplum I'd get rid of a fair bit of the creasing and blousing in the back because it would have more ease to drop back down where it's supposed to be sitting, rather than getting stuck above my hips. Adding some more ease in somewhere below the hip could also possibly help with that? What do you think? What would you do?

(Obviously once I've fixed the back wrinkles I'll have to assess the length so it doesn't swing up in the back like it is at the moment)

I've also spotted diagonal lines running from my shoulder-blades to my armpits on the back - would I fix that by adding a smidge to the back side seam? (more obvious in the above photos than below ones)


Also, how long are sleeves supposed to be?

And lastly, not a fitting issue but a problem I had - when sewing it together the back pieces are supposed to be longer than the peplum but mine weren't - they were the same, and then the peplum was longer than the front piece. I double and triple checked, that was the only way around the peplum would go in, as the double notches went at the back/side-back seam where there was an extra notch... Help?!

In conclusion - I desperately need a good book on fitting, so in addition to any fitting advice, any fitting book recommendations gratefully received.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Summertime Cambie Dress

If you follow me on instagram you will have seen that a couple of weeks ago I started a new project with the lovely Lilac embroidery anglais that I bought at the Rag Market in Birmingham back when I visited in July. Right from the outset this fabric was destined to become a full-skirted Cambie dress from Sewaholic Patterns. However, since it is definitely a summer dress I had no desire to make it up while it was still winter. However, summer has definitely arrived (in proper Melbourne style with a mix of sunshine and rain, and temperatures ranging from 10 to 40 degrees celcius), so the dress needed to be made!

While making up the dress I decided that it would be interesting to track how long the dress took me to make, so I made some notes of my progress as I worked away. It should be noted that as I have already made the Cambie, the pattern was already prepared (with the exception of the two full-skirt pieces) and I didn't have to worry about which size I was making. Times are rounded to the nearest 5 minutes.

I won't bore you with the details of the breakdown of the construction times, but the dress took me about 7 hours and 10 minutes. That also includes a couple of mistakes I made that I had to undo and fix.

It took a little longer than I think it normally should have because I altered the construction slightly to accommodate the holes in my fabric (which is where one of the mistakes came in). I used the lining as part lining and part underlining.

I stitched the neckline as if it were lining to finish that edge, but I did the darts with both layers together so that you can't see the darts through the holes in the fabric. I then did something funky with the waistband so it's all totally enclosed (as because of the darts with both layers I couldn't do it the normal way.

The last change I made was to add a thin line of milliners elastic in a little channel along the neckline of the dress, as it was gaping very slightly (but not as much as my last version, so I didn't add princess seams like that one). The elastic has pulled the neckline in that little bit it needed and I don't think it looks too obtrusive.

In true confusion of methods, I hand-picked the zip but machine stitched the hem - pick your hand sewing battles I say! The hand picking of the zip probably added about half an hour to the construction time over doing it by machine; but that's assuming that the topstitching went well first try by machine! Sadly I've seen in the photos that the zip pulls a little at the waistband and you can see the zip there, but nevermind! If that's the worst thing about the dress I'll survive!

A massive thanks must also go to Sarah for being my photographer today, as well as being a superb sewing enabler (I am kinda now the owner of a copy of the Cordova Pattern, whoops!), and of course allowing me to use today's trendiest accessory to any summer dress, her beautiful daughter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hollyburn Sew-Along - Badge and Dates!

I'm excited to have received such a positive response to my Hollyburn sew-along announcement the other day! Thanks everyone!! Today I have a sew-along badge and some other information to share with you.

You can see above a slightly larger version, and below a smaller one. Please feel free to grab one of the images if you want to post about it on your blog or elsewhere on the internets. If you want to make the image link to anywhere I suggest using the following link to the sew-along page, which I will update with all the sew-along posts as they're posted:

I also thought I'd share with you all my rough thoughts of timescale for the sew-along. I am currently planning on starting at the beginning of January with some inspiration and fabric choice posts, with some pattern prep and adjustment posts the second week of January. This should then lead into beginning sewing around the 21st of January, giving us two weeks to sew the skirts and hopefully have the skirts to share for the beginning of February. How does that sound to you guys?

As this is a beginner pattern, I was going to err on the side of including more information in my posts (or in some cases links to better information than I could put together) to try and support beginner sewers.

Please let me know what you think, I am very keen for feedback so I can make this (my first) sew-along as great as possible!

Missed any of the sew-along posts, or just want to re-read them? You can find the full list here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Kris Kringle is now a knitter...

My new work has a Kris Kringle, and I spent ages trying to decide what to get for my person. Then the other night I had a brainwave while I was wandering around the shops in the city; I decided to knit a cowl. So off I went to Morris and Sons and bought a ball of yarn.

On the weekend I spent some time on Ravelry looking at patterns, and fell in love with the "Clara Cowl" pattern. Despite having a different size needle to what's recommended, I decided to go ahead with the pattern anyway.


It was a quick knit, and I finished the cowl this evening. I'm so happy with it! It's amazing how some clever (and quite tricky due to the number of stitches) cabling can make the knitting look like it's plaited!


The cowl is joined into a tube using a kitchener stitch, but I think I had my stitches on the needle the wrong way around, because my kitchener stitch isn't invisible like it's supposed to be (see below). Nevermind, you win some, you loose some.

You might be wondering what possessed me to knit an alpaca/merino cowl as a Christmas gift for someone in Australia? Well if you are that's a perfectly reasonable thing to wonder. However, there is method to my madness, as the recipient of my gift is headed over to Europe in March, so hopefully a nice warm cowl will come in useful for that trip.

And just incase it's not their thing, as a backup I've also chucked in a couple of yummy bars of chocolate from the Oxfam shop; this one and this one to be exact - do yourself a favour and grab some next time you pass an Oxfam shop, as they're delish!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hollyburn and A Sew-Along!

After a particularly crazy week I'm very excited to be able to share this with you today, as I've had to keep it a secret for what feels like AGES. So, with no further ado, my Hollyburn skirt...

I was a pattern tester for the newest Sewaholic pattern; the Hollyburn skirt. I've been a pattern tester before, for the Minoru and Thurlow patterns, and was very excited to be one again. (In these photos, my skirt is worn with my Chiffon Pendrell).

If I'm entirely honest, when I first saw the line drawing for the Hollyburn pattern and read the description I was not very enthusiastic about the skirt. But then I cut out the pattern pieces and I noticed that it is infact three different skirts; each one a different amount of full-ness, to be optimally flattering, not just one skirt with different lengths.

I made the shortest length, in a size 10 with absolutely no alterations. I didn't do any measuring other than checking how long the different lengths would be on me (approximately), and at one point in the construction I second guessed myself got a bit worried that not measuring had been a mistake and the waist would be too small. However I've made so many sewaholic patterns and I've made a size 10 in every one and had to make minimal alterations, and the same was true for this one.

The shortest length, and thus fullest-flare is a bit less than a 1/2 circle skirt when you lay out all the pieces around, which was great, as at the time I was actually already planning on drafting myself a half circle skirt, and Tasia has saved me the effort!

The fabric I used is some very narrowly striped grey and black wool, the I bought at Rathdowne Remnants. I also added a lining to my version (which isn't in the pattern) as wool can be a bit scratchy against my skin, and more importantly it stops it from sticking to tights as I walk. Of course, being me, the lining wasn't black or grey, it was bright turquoise! (Blame the girls at Social Sewing for that one! Particularly Kat)

Once I finished the skirt I was completely convinced; this is a fantastic pattern! I'm really glad that doing the pattern testing 'forced' me to try this pattern as it has great potential to become a wardrobe staple. I was in great need of finding a pattern for a simple skirt to wear with various blouses/tops that isn't a pencil skirt, and I think this might be it!

The pattern is geared towards beginner sewers - the instructions were very clear, and the steps very simple. I really do think this will be a fantastic pattern for beginners and more advanced sewers alike. It's a simple design which I think would get plenty of wear by anybody that makes it, but the construction steps are simple enough for even a very beginner. Moreover, as the only part you really have to fit is the waistband, so there's no pesky fitting issues to worry about.

In even more exciting news, I am so much of a convert on this skirt that I've decided to host a sew-along for the pattern!! (My very first sewalong too! Eek!)

My lovely wool version is less use now that we're well and truly into Melbourne Summer, so I need to make (at least) another one, and thought why not make it a sew-along, to share my enthusiasm for this pattern.

Is anybody else interested?

I am planning on starting the sew-along mid-Jan, to give everyone time to recover from the Christmas and New Year madness, and also time for people to buy patterns etc. I shall post more about my plans for the sew-along (and ask for any requests/suggestions/feedback) later this week, but in the meantime, if you're interested you should order your patterns! They're available direct from Sewaholic already, and if you're in Australia I recommend getting it from SewSquirrel, who has them available.

Missed any of the sew-along posts, or just want to re-read them? You can find the full list here.
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